Some years ago when when some good men and I started the unregistered church movement in America, we were driven to the Scriptures to make sure that our position was right. When you leave the church fellowship that you have grown up in, and are ostracized and vilified by “friends” of a lifetime, it is not unusual to go to the Bible, and to your knees, to determine whether you are in God’s perfect will. This assurance is also helpful when you are in the hole at the Federal Penitentiary in downtown Chicago, especially when your cellmate is one of the most vicious criminals in Chicago, according to his news clippings which he carried with him. This experience took place in June of 1983 when Federal District Judge Rudy Lazano sentenced me to an open ended term in one of the worst prisons in our federal system because I refused to give up records of the church of which I was the pastor at the time, the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, to the Federal District court in Hammond, Indiana.
As I restudied this issue from the pages of Holy Writ, I became convinced more than ever that our founding fathers not only had a wonderful foundation in history and law; but also in the “Law and the prophets.” They did not establish a strict system of separation between state and church, but rather protected the jurisdiction of each with the simple wording of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, there would be no State Church, nor would there be a state hindrance of religious activity as had been so prevalent in Europe. The establishment clause in the use of the word “religion” referred to the various sects of the Christian faith. Following is a brief overview on this subject from the Scriptures showing that the First Amendment and the various States’ Bills of Rights had to come straight from the pages of the Bible.
This concept begins when Abram refused to take anything from the King of Sodom, in his words “…lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:” And yet he gave, “…tithes of all,” to Melchizedek King of Salem, the priest of the Most High God. The child of God was not to receive gifts from the state, even though in this case it would have been legal, because the King of Sodom had offered him the spoils of war; but the tithe goes to God, not the state. How could a true New Testament Church give the tithe that belongs to God to the state in taxes or any other form? This concept was incorporated into the thinking of the apostolic churches as recorded by John the apostle with these words, “Because that for His name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing from the Gentiles.” [3 John 1:7] How would the modern church goer in America try that one on for size as they deduct their tithes and offerings off on their 1040 form each year?
Even in that dark hour that Abraham found himself in when he traveled to Gerar and lied to Abimelech concerning Sarah being his sister, God providentially protected him by coming to Abimelech in a dream and warning him concerning Sarah and revealed to him that she was a man’s wife. Then the Lord said to Abimelech after explaining that He had kept him from sinning the sin unto death, “Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live:” And Abraham did pray for him, “and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants: and they bare children” (Genesis Ch. 18).
The church is not to give the tithe to the state, but the church has something far greater to give, and that is its prayers. Note Paul’s command in this regard:
1Timothy 2:1-6: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
But then notice how the false church got off track in time by the following example in history.
History Repeats Itself
It took all but a remnant of the early church 300 years to finally accept the proposal of marriage to Constantine but less than 200 years for most of the American churches to accept the shoddy proposal of betrothel by the IRS. At least the early believers could give the excuse of severe persecution but the American variety of Christianity wasn’t threatened with any kind of hardship, they simply gave up their liberty for, “filthy lucre.” The following account, in the history of Roman Catholicism, from A Distant Mirror-A Calamitous 14th Century by Barbara Tuchman clearly revealed what happened then and now. These words are found on pg 6.
“After his conversion to Christianity by St. Remi, King Clovis gave the territory of Coucy to the new bishopric of Reims, grounding the church in the things of Caesar, as the Emperor Constantine had traditionally grounded the Church of Rome. By Constantine’s gift, Christianity was both officially established and fatally compromised. As William Langland wrote:
When the kindness of Constantine gave Holy Church endowments
In lands and leases, lordships and servants,
The Romans heard an angel cry on high above them,
“This day dos ecclesiae has drunk venom
And all who have Peter’s power are poisoned forever.”
It is also said that a Pope told St. Thomas Aquinas, “No longer does the church have to say, as Peter, “Gold and silver have I none.” Thomas replied, “Right Sire, and neither can it say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (CF 2 Kings Chapter 5 & Acts. 3:1-11).